Breaking Barriers: Empowering Arab Women with Disabilities through Academic Studies and On-the-Job Training

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We are excited to share that after more than a year of intensive work, in a joint initiative of Chimes Israel and the Beit Berl Technology Center, we opened a unique academic knowledge and practical experience training program for Arab women with disabilities. The program trains the women to be early childhood classroom assistants and helps them in their integration into the workplace.

The first class consists of 12 selected women from Tira and Taibe. These women who live with intellectual developmental disabilities and cognitive impairment, will be trained as kindergarten aides in the five-month course that includes theoretical and practical training to form an important basis for their professional development.  As part of the program, the students will study child development and care academically three days a week at Beit Berl College and will experience practical training at early childhood centers the other two days.

There were many challenges in developing the program. Arab society is very conservative and protective. Most of the students who began their studies had no employment framework due to their families’ desire to keep them in a safe and protected environment. The school’s professional directors also raised concerns about integrating these women into academia as well as the success of the program. Defying these doubts, the students are integrating well. They are studying, eating in the cafeteria, and sitting on the college lawn during breaks like all students.

The curriculum includes early childhood developmental characteristics; the role of the kindergarten aide; safety; and education. All subjects are adapted to be accessible to students with cognitive disabilities, in order to empower them and optimally prepare them for open market employment.

“The integration of students with intellectual disabilities into the university is in line with the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and allows them access to higher education and learning,” said Havazelet Amrami, Chimes Israel’s Director of Employment. “This is what we did years ago when we developed a pioneering program with Bar-Ilan University for students with intellectual disabilities. The initiative supports the rights of women with disabilities from Arab society to be able to learn in their own language at their level, develop, and infuse meaning into their lives.”

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